Most Inspirational Moment
In Luxor, watching about 20 hot air balloons rise slowly at down from our cabin on the Nile cruise. Driving through the curving sandy landscape towards the Valley of the Kings. Waking up on an overnight train from Cairo to gaze at palm trees, having left the urban bustle behind. Arriving after 4 hours of sunrise driving, at the epic Abu Simbel. Finally, the atmospheric Metropole hotel in Alexandria with breakfast pastries and omelettes that were immaculately presented, delicious and homemade.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Our group leader, Tifa, was very knowledgable, kind and protective. He managed our expectations before we arrived at each site and had good tips as to which highlights were worth paying extra to see. He made sure the group moved as one but allowed us time for photographs and free time in the markets. It was reassuring having an Egyptian guide who knew the customs and language. On occasion, we wanted more time in a location but the schedule was very busy. He was always available and discreet if someone had lost something or felt unwell.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Be prepared for early morning starts, but not on all days. Bring tipping money in Egyptian pounds - ATMs are easily found everywhere. Get used to tipping, as it is expected, even for loo visits! Be aware of paying for extra excursions, pyramid entrance fees or tomb visits - these have been mentioned in a general way in the paperwork before the trip. They are well worth doing, though! For the overnight train trip, wrap up warm as it gets chilly in the night, and perhaps bring a silk sleeping bag liner. Alexandria and Cairo were colder than expected in our mid-March trip. Bring jumpers, socks and perhaps a light jacket. It was much warmer in the southern locations of Luxor and Aswan.
Hats, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes were key. Pack lightly as suitcases are constantly being unpacked and packed. If you are taking a large camera, small fees to enter a site or museum are often expected but it is worth it for good photos. Earplugs might help if you find car hooting and train wheel motion sounds a bit distracting at night! Though, for a light sleeper, I mainly nodded off fine. The last hotel in Luxor (Iberotel) had noisy rooms street-side - so do request that this hotel is changed. It had a beautiful swimming pool on the Nile, though. The first hotel in Cairo, has changed from the Pyramid Park Hotel to the Sonesta and this was very comfortable and welcoming, as were all other hotels on the trip, bar the Iberotel!